Pakistani troops fire on intruding U.S. helicopters
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistani troops fired on two U.S. helicopters that intruded into Pakistani territory on Sunday night, forcing them to turn back to Afghanistan, a senior Pakistani security official said on Monday.
The helicopters violated the border in the area of Lowara Mandi, 80 km west of Miranshah, the main town in the North Waziristan tribal region, at around 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
There was no official confirmation.
“We don’t have any information on border violation by the American helicopters,” Major Murad Khan, a military spokesman, said.
Relations between the two allies became frayed earlier this month after U.S. commandos raided a border village in South Waziristan and killed 20 people, including women and children, on September 3. Pakistanis were outraged by the incursion and the six-month-old civilian government issued a diplomatic protest.
It was the first overt incursion by U.S. ground troops into Pakistani territory, though the U.S. military has conducted numerous missile strikes against “”al Qaeda“” and “”Taliban”” targets in Pakistan’s tribal lands.
Pakistani troops fired on two U.S. helicopters that crossed the border at the same village, Angor Adda, a week ago, again forcing them to turn back, according to residents and security officers, though both Pakistani and U.S. officials issued denials.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is due to meet President George W. Bush on Tuesday in the United States.